Monsieur F is finally harvesting the seed from his sugar beet. Over these last weeks the brown floppy heads have lain heaped in muddled rows in the hot sun waiting to be collected.
A thunderous vacuum cleaner, the great green and white harvester with its giant red threshing blades creeps slowly up the slope beyond our cherry tree, dust and debris spewing out behind. The tractors with their trailers wait patiently for their cargo at the top of the field.
Eric was building the pool house in the spring when the roots were being planted. A row of women sat nattering on the back of the drill, wrapped in winter coats against the chill air, dropping each small plant down the chute to the ground as Monsieur F's tractor crawled across the field - no faster than the harvester today.
The crop is the seed. The roots will just lie in the field, to be ploughed up and left to rot down over winter when they will sprout a fine array of white, flat mushrooms.
Wikipedia tells me that one kilogram of beet seed yields over 100,000 seeds, enough to plant a hectare of ground. Many millions of seeds are being harvested, enough to plant many, many hectares next spring - I wonder where?